Guns on the Clackamas

Nigel Nado Keith Scales James X Michael Thomas Parks Sol Kaplan Danny Bruno Horst Heinkel William Tate Angela Wadsworth Louanne Moldovan Carl (Safety First) Huggins John Bader Edwin (Specs) Morehouse Will Weigler Holton P. Jeffers Jr. Ed Townley

Nigel Nado Keith Scales James X Michael Thomas Parks Sol Kaplan Danny Bruno Horst Heinkel William Tate Angela Wadsworth Louanne Moldovan Carl (Safety First) Huggins John Bader Edwin (Specs) Morehouse Will Weigler Holton P. Jeffers Jr. Ed Townley

Bill Plympton’s offbeat, heavy-handed humor takes on fools in film and other places for this juvenile spoof of filmmaking. Taking aim at pompous documentary and studio politics, acclaimed animator Plympton’s first live-action film has a few moments of brightness but far too many occasions of sophomoric humor. Commercial outlook is bleak.

Pointing its satire at film “geniuses” and the critics who give them unearned adulation, pic limps along with obvious jokes and childish conceits. Holton P. Jeffers Jr., producer of the Western “Guns on the Clackamas,” is to be documented by the British filmmaker Nigel Nado, but the great man is unable even to get the interviewer onto the set. The strings are pulled by the baloney merchant whose miserly funding of the film project quickly expires.

As acted by a mostly non-pro cast, this looks like a junior high school film project. Acting talent is sparse, and Plympton’s inexperience with live performers is clear. Much of the film is given over to Michael Thomas Parks as James X, the PR man on the film, whose acid delivery is expertly conveyed, while Keith Scales, as documaker Nigel Nado, spoofs earnestness.

Plympton gets stuck in a badbreath gag that surely does gag. A supposed sendup of Clark Gable is revolting. As for its stick-in-the-ribs of vapid screen heroines, pic’s reminder of Jean Hagen in “Singin’ in the Rain” is too much for this film to bear. A tiresome effort to find humor in bad film catering is just silly.

Guns on the Clackamas

Production: A Bill Plympton production. Produced, directed by Bill Plympton, Screenplay, Plympton, P.C. Vey.

Crew: Camera (color), Rick Cullis, Tom Baker; editor, Merrill Stern; art direction, Moe Schwartz; associate producers. Stefanie Goldbloom, Jessica Wolf-Stanley. Reviewed at Denver Film Festival, Oct. 15, 1995. Running time: 90 MIN.

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